BARRINGTON – Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital supporters and staff are quick to celebrate any construction milestone in their years-long, $247 million modernization project.
A ceremony Tuesday marked the signing and raising of the final steel beam for the exterior portion of the project. The beam was placed on the top corner of a newly erected 208,000-square-foot building on the north end of the hospital.
Hospital president Karen Lambert said the north building has been “a dream and vision” for about seven years.
“We’ve always been focused on ‘what we need,’ ” Lambert said. “What we need is private rooms.”
Once all exterior and interior construction is complete in 2017, every patient will have privacy. The hospital will increase its bed count from 169 to 176.
Interior construction began last October. A new chapel, administrative department and temporary west entry are now complete. This fall, the hospital will have a renovated testing center and an expanded gastrointestinal suite.
Larry Arndt, general manager of health care for the project’s contractor, Mortenson Construction, said exterior work is on schedule for completion.
“We started building the foundation for the north building in April and the weather has been great this summer,” Arndt said. “We’ve even been able to pour concrete through recent rain.”
Arndt said the north building will be ready to house patients in January 2016 when a new two-story glass atrium entry will be complete on the hospital’s south side.
Earlier this summer, elevator shafts went up on the north building. Tuesday’s final beam was signed by the hospital’s governing council, engineers, planners, construction workers, physicians and volunteers before its lift.
Project director Allison Wyler said this was the hospital’s first beam signing. A groundbreaking ceremony was held about a year ago.
“You’ve got to celebrate the major milestones with a project of this size,” Wyler said.
Wyler said the main goal is to “co-locate” services, making hospital visits convenient for both in- and outpatients.
About 1,300 associates are employed at the hospital – a number Lambert said she doesn’t expect to change.
“I don’t foresee additional hires,” Lambert said. “We are already at high patient occupancy now and will have more flexibility with all-private rooms. We won’t have to close off half a room when patients require isolation and waste that space.”
Lambert said the hospital updates will allow staff to bring tests and procedures to patients’ bedsides, in addition to guests being able to stay overnight with family members.
Also being modernized are the hospital’s radiology, ambulatory care, cardiovascular and pulmonary centers; labs, operating rooms, visitors’ areas, lobby and conference centers.
Arndt said the update is a “fun, challenging project” for Mortenson’s 200-person crew.
Construction has been night and day, Arndt said, adding that noise is monitored to ensure patients aren’t woken in their sleep.
When asked about new bedside and operating room technology, Arndt estimated the construction cost is just a fraction of the multimillion-dollar modernization plan with technology upgrades as the bulk of the expense.
“Almost every update includes technology,” Arndt said. “Every patient’s room will be called a ‘smart room,’ where medical records are readily available on electronic viewing screens.”
Advocate Health Care is covering the bulk of project costs. The hospital’s project steering committee has set a goal to raise $25 million of the $247 million for modernization. Lambert said more than $20 million has been raised so far, with a fundraising campaign that’s still active.
The hospital’s annual gala, scheduled for Sept. 13, will also benefit the project, Lambert said, adding that the project is about more than construction beams.
“It’s about the people and the care,” Lambert said. “That’s what enables us to deliver world-class results.”